For many people, losing weight can be a struggle, as shedding those extra pounds can be as challenging as climbing Mount Everest.
However, with Jan. 15-21 designated as National Healthy Weight Week, health experts say don’t despair. Reaching a healthy weight is attainable if you take incremental steps, set reasonable goals and reward yourself.
“As you begin your lifestyle change journey, it’s important to have a positive mindset because getting more fit will take time,” said Roohe Ahmed, a registered dietician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Remember this: the weight often doesn’t come on overnight, so we can’t expect to lose it that fast and easy.
“We must be patient,” Ahmed continued, noting it’s not unusual to lose one-half to one pound per week. “Sometimes, one may not lose even that, but hang in there,” she said. “Your body can be stubborn, and it can be challenging for certain age groups to drop weight as fast as they did previously. Making lifestyle changes will help you obtain a healthier weight, however, which will improve your overall health and well-being.”
Silvia Delgado, also a registered dietician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, noted attaining and maintaining a healthy weight is important to reduce your risk of contracting chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, non-alcoholic fatty liver and sleep apnea. Weight may also affect your mental health, resulting in depression and anxiety in some cases.
Delgado recommended making your weight loss less of a challenge and more of an exciting journey.
“I usually suggest to patients to write down their top five reasons why they want to lose weight,” she explained. “What’s their ‘why,’ which may be, ‘I want to be healthier to reduce my risk of getting diabetes. Grandma had diabetes, and I saw the hard time she went through, and I don’t want that.’ This is important because when motivation inevitably drops, you can revisit those why’s and get remotivated.
“I also suggest putting items in view that will motivate you to lose weight. Hang up an outfit you want to get into, or a picture of a mountain you want to climb – anything will help.”
Additionally, try to find a “wellness partner” to go on this journey with you for motivation and accountability, Delgado added.
Ahmed noted it’s also important to focus on what you can control during your weight-loss journey, such as asking yourself, “Did I eat veggies today? Did I get in my 20 minutes of exercise?” She stressed the importance of trying your best to be consistent; maybe you can’t get in that 20-minute workout, but you can take a 10-minute walk at your lunch break.
Ahmed and Delgado emphasized the importance of celebrating your victories weekly, but NOT with food. Instead, treat yourself to small experiences such as a new pair of socks, a hike with the family, a movie night, a bubble bath, etc.
“It’s important to remember that losing weight is a journey that may take more time than you’d like, but from the standpoint of good health, it will be all worth it and you will feel better,” Ahmed noted.